Animal Cracker Pie Crust

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In a food processor, crush approximately 2 cups of chocolate animal crackers (or other wafer cookie) until it forms fine crumbs. Measure 1 1/2 cups of these crumbs into a mixing bowl. Slowly stream in 6 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled.

Press into a pie plate and really smash it all together. The more compact you can make it, the easier it is to serve intact later.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

 

Let cool completely before filling with pie filling of your choice.

 

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Shepherd’s Pie-rogi

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This recipe is a bit of a love letter to my parents. My dad’s family has deep Polish roots, my mother’s has deep English roots. Both countries are mocked for their culinary traditions, but I’ve always found the food to be pretty tasty and always comforting. Seemed only natural to combine them!

For the dough:

Combine 3 cups flour, 1 large egg, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 cup warm water. When the flour is fully incorporated, the dough should not feel wet or sticky. If your dough feels wet or sticky, add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time. When the dough is fully incorporated, knead using your hands for about 8 minutes. Let rest in a bowl at room temperature for about an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound of ground beef. Traditionally, Shepherd’s pie uses lamb but it’s not something I regularly buy. I go with beef and most folks can’t tell the difference. After the beef is browned, add 1/2 diced white onion, 1 Russet potato, peeled, cubed and boiled in salted water until soft, 1 cup frozen peas, 2 large carrots, shredded, 2 cloves minced garlic, 6 ounces tomato paste, 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

When the filling has cooled, roll out the dough fairly thinly. Use a 3″ cookie cutter to cut rounds of dough. Dollop a tablespoon of filling on one side, then fold over and crimp together using your fingers. When your perogies are all folded and crimped, drop into boiling salted water. Boil for five minutes after they rise to the surface, then remove from the water. Finally, lightly pan fry them in 3 tablespoons of oil or butter. Alternatively, lightly brush with olive oil and air-fry until golden brown. The combination of boiling and frying creates a chewy but crispy texture and it’s the best of both worlds.

Dutch Oven Pancakes: Pannekoeken

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This recipe comes from my husband’s family, and was relayed to me recently using non-measuring terms. Graham held up his hands about an inch and a half apart and told me we used that much sugar. Don’t worry, I have actual measurements for you.

Whisk together 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup almond milk. When thoroughly combined, spread a light layer in the bottom of two greased cast iron skillets or 9×9 glass pans. Or find a plethora of tiny cast iron skillets or spring form pans. Swirl around so the dough climbs the walls of your pans a bit, which will encourage it to grow when you bake it.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

When removed from the oven, spread a generous amount of Greek yogurt over the surface of the pancake, then mix in brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the yogurt. This ends up being pretty sweet, so you likely won’t need syrup. Top with fresh fruits of your choice and dig in!

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Faux Pho Empanadas

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I’d been toying with the idea of pho and empanadas for a while before finally getting around to finding the star anise and testing them out. I’d predicted correctly that they’d be delicious!

For the dough:

Mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 egg, 1/3 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. It should form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound ground beef, then add 1/2 diced white onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the zest of two limes, 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a light simmer and continue simmering approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the sauce:

Blend together 1 bunch lemon basil leaves (approximately 1 cup), about 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 4 jalapenos, seeds and tops removed,  green onions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

When everything is thoroughly chilled and cooled, break off 1/4 cup sized pieces of dough, shape into a ball, and roll out into a flat circle. Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling. Roll over the edges and crimp using a fork or your fingers. You can get pretty fancy with how you secure your empanada edges. I have not gotten that fancy. Brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of water) and cook at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You can use an air fryer at this step if you have one. Serve hot with generous helpings of the dipping sauce.

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Saucy

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In a food processor, crush 1/4 cup raw almonds until finely ground. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 cup packed basil (if you use purple, it gets to be crushed almond purple sauce), the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, three seeded and de-stemmed red jalapenos, and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth. You may need to add additional olive oil to get a consistency you like.

Tastes amazing on roast chicken.

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Orange, Earl Grey, and Matcha

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Madeleines are cookies that most folks find impressive but are secretly really easy to make. They are also among my favorite cookies. Of these three recipes, the orange are my favorite!

Preheat oven to 375.

With a mixer, beat together one egg, 2 teaspoons milk, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Add 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Combine thoroughly.

Add 4 tablespoons melted but cooled butter, and whip until thick ribbons are formed by your batter.

For orange: mix in the zest of one orange. For Earl Grey: mix in two teaspoons of Earl Grey tea and the zest of one lemon. For matcha: mix in two teaspoons of matcha powder.

Fill each madeleine mold 2/3 full. Bake approximately 11 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. When cooled, dust with powdered sugar if you feel so inclined. The matcha always end up more pillowy than the others for me, just fair warning.

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